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May 27, 2018
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Navigating the aging journey

By: Julie Ann Soukoulis
February 23, 2018

How to become an employable modern elder

Two-thirds of older workers believe age discrimination occurs in the workplace. This is according to a 2013 survey performed by the AARP. The survey also showed that older job seekers need much more time to find a job—36 weeks in 2015, compared with only 26 weeks for younger workers.

Older workers: evidence of broad discrimination

A recent study by economists at the University of California at Irvine and Tulane University found strong evidence of age discrimination in hiring, particularly for older women.

Researchers sent out 40,000 dummy job applications. These applications included signals on the job-seekers’ ages -  then monitored the response rates.

The measured callback rates for various occupations showed that workers age 49-51 applying for administrative positions had a callback rate of 29 percent. This is clearly lower than younger workers and it was 47 percent lower for workers over the age of 64.

How to combat this trend:

Intern publicly, mentor privately.

Younger people need the spotlight to be on them. So if the council of an elder does not rely on getting any credit for ideas and decisions - they are far more likely to thrive in the world of the millennials. As a modern elder, “your job is to intern publicly and mentor privately.”

You need to be vocal about your mentoring style - and upfront about your need to learn more to remain vital and valuable. You can let the interviewer know that if you have advice for other senior managers, you will always only offer it privately, one-to-one. Even then, you should always remember that the learning will be reciprocal.

Offer wisdom in exchange for knowledge

The offer should be - more or less: “I’ll share some of my emotional intelligence for your digital intelligence.” The modern elder role is one that any experienced manager might seek to create.

Luther Kitahata, vice president of engineering at TiVo, is 52. He has led engineering teams at several successful startups. A few years ago to broaden his skills he decided to become an executive leadership coach.

“Psychology and personal development have been passions of mine since I was a child, so this was something that had been building for 25 years or more,” Kitahata said.

Essentially, he has become a modern elder.

“The fact that I have walked in their shoes [as a Silicon Valley executive and entrepreneur] makes the coaching more effective,” Kitahata says. “And whereas in high tech, the older you get the more you are viewed as irrelevant, in coaching almost the opposite is true — the more experience you have, the more weight you pull. So this was a perfect transition for me.”   

Give the word ‘elder’ new meaning:

One reservation many have about the modern elder notion is its inevitable association with “elderly.” Someone who is elderly is usually considered a resource drain, as opposed to someone who is giving back. We need to reclaim the word ‘elder’ and give it a new meaning.

Four ways to become a modern elder:

If you’d like to create a modern elder role for yourself, here are a few suggestions:

1.      Be ready to evolve.

2.      Adopt a beginner’s mindset.

3.      Become a respected collaborator with others.

4.      Be prepared to counsel those around you when you have    wisdom that could help them perform better.

5.      Learn how to articulate these skills within your resume.

6.      Never need full-credit or a spotlight.

There are people in our world strolling around while feeling like an old carton of milk with an expiration date stamped on their foreheads. When recognized for their inherent wisdom and experience - they are obviously less like a carton of milk and much more like a vintage wine — especially here in the digital era.

Resource; Wisdom@Work: The Making of a Modern Elder. Conley.

 Julie Ann Soukoulis is the owner of Home Instead Senior care office in Rohnert Park, mother of two and passionate about healthy living at all ages. Having cared for her own two parents, she understands your struggles and aims, through her website, www.homeinstead.com/sonoma to educate and encourage seniors & caregivers. Have a caregiving or aging concern? She’s love to hear from you at 586-1516 anytime.